Does falling smoking lead to rising obesity?

J Health Econ. 2006 Mar;25(2):183-97; discussion 389-93. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2005.07.005. Epub 2005 Sep 13.


The strong negative correlation over time between smoking rates and obesity have led some to suggest that reduced smoking is increasing weight gain in the U.S. This conclusion is supported by the findings of Chou et al. [Chou, S.-Y., Grossman, M., Saffer, H., 2004. An economic analysis of adult obesity: results from the behavioral risk factor surveillance system. Journal of Health Economics 23, 565-587], who conclude that higher cigarette prices lead to increased body weight. We investigate this issue and find no evidence that reduced smoking leads to weight gain. Using the cigarette tax rather than the cigarette price and controlling for non-linear time effects, we find a negative effect of cigarette taxes on body weight, implying that reduced smoking leads to lower body weights. Yet our results, as well as Chou et al., imply implausibly large effects of smoking on body weight. Thus, we cannot confirm that falling smoking leads in a major way to rising obesity rates in the U.S.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • United States